Follow TV Tropes


One of These Doors Is Not Like the Other

Go To
Hmm, I wonder if those red flowers have any significance...

One of these doors just doesn't belong.

Our hero and his friends are wandering in an absurdly complicated place. Maybe it's The Maze, or perhaps an exceedingly long hallway with two doors. Either way, they are shocked to find that whenever they enter one of two doors, they go all the way back to the beginning! Forced to Try Everything, they finally notice something strange about one path, usually one of the following:

  • Sounds or music are particularly audible near one exit.
  • There is a lit torch or other light source next to the door.
  • The door or other pathway features have received a Palette Swap.
  • Or, you notice a character going down one pathway which just happens to be the right one.

The name of the trope comes from, but is not related to, the old Sesame Street song "One of These Things". Compare Notice This, Conspicuously Light Patch.


    open/close all folders 

    Action Adventure 
  • Illusion of Gaia:
    • In some areas, there appears to be no door at all, but paying careful attention to the wind, or else the sound made by striking reveals the secret.
    • There's actually an area that follows this trope exactly: Will has to visit a set of two rooms and point out the differences between them to continue. These differences can be easy number or color of pots or hard the contents of a chest or the wind blowing through Will's hair. The chest one is particularly tricky because the rooms are completely identical... until you open the chest in one.
  • In Killer7, at one point you navigate by the sound of a singer's voice. Thing is, you can't do so just by listening. Instead, you have to switch to Con Smith: He's blind, so via Disability Superpower he can "see" the music as sound waves.
  • La-Mulana 2 has a particularly devious one in the Underworld: The player must traverse a route of 7 specific doors to get to the area boss, using hints scattered throughout the rest of the game. If they take a wrong door, they're ejected from the area and have to start over. However, some of the doors periodically lead to a completely different room that contains an important treasure but also contains a miniboss that can't be defeated the traditional way because it is a literal mirror image of the player. The only way to know which doors these are, outside of trial-and-error and lucky timing, is to pick up a certain item elsewhere in the ruins and to watch for the eyes over the doors to glow green. Said treasure also makes the wrong doors glow with white eyes.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: Your first time through the Lost Woods has all of the "correct" doors play the background music more loudly when you approach them. After you learn Saria's Song, this clue no longer plays, so you must memorize the route (or take advantage of the fact that the doors that lead to different parts of the Woods and the ones that lead out are rendered differently.)
    • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask: The Woods of Mystery in Southern Swamp has you follow a monkey across hollow tunnels to avoid getting lost and returning to the entrance; unlike the Lost Woods in Ocarina of Time, the correct path changes every day, but the monkey has memorized all patterns. The path to Pinnacle Rock in the Great Bay Area is similar, only there the "doors" are invisible paths within the ocean surrounded by murky water, and you have to follow a seahorse.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games: Twinrova's lair, The Very Definitely Final Dungeon of a linked game, has one such maze which has several eyes embedded in the wall. You always use the door in the direction that none of the eyes are looking in.
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker: In the final dungeon, a maze can be navigated only after Link kills the Phantom Ganon in each room and sees which direction its sword's handle falls. In the Forsaken Fortress, the correct path to the top of the fortress is marked by the lit torches.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, there's a graveyard with one of these. Signs in each area tell you where to go. After a few signs, though, they stop giving straight directions ("Left" or "Up") and start getting tricky, with things like "Same as two signs ago" or "The opposite of the last sign."
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Link has to navigate the Sacred Grove by following the Skull Kid and keeping tabs on where his light can be spotted.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, the only way to get through one island's maze temple is to first visit the local graveyard. This is actually a double solution. The inscriptions on the knights' tombstones provide the correct path through the maze, but the positions in which the tombstones are situated relative to each other also shows you the correct shape to draw later to open a dungeon.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, one villager tells Link that he has to turn in the directions tree branches point in order to make it through the Lost Woods... but another villager tells him that the fourth tree "has no sense of direction", and you must go opposite of where its branch is pointing instead.
  • In Lonesome Village, the Lost Duck puzzle follows the "several identical rooms with paths facing in four directions" form of this trope. To find the correct way, you have to pay attention to the leaves floating on the water and the direction they're drifting towards.
  • In Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, you navigate one of these mazes by where the sound of dripping water is loudest.
  • Spectrobes: Origins:
    • Slayso Tower has three different rooms with seven exit doors each, six of which lead to broken elevators and a Krawl fight. The correct doors to go through are (in order) the one with the different pattern, the one that you can hear wind through, and the one the Child Spectrobe identifies when sent searching (which most players would not have done due to the lack of hidden items in the rooms. Thankfully, if the player keeps choosing incorrectly, Rallen and Jeena will hint at, and eventually reveal, how to find the correct door.
    • The legendary weapons on each of those floors can similarly be found through the distinctive humming noise they make, which can be heard through the door.

    Action Games 
  • SNES game Bebe's Kids pulls this on the player in the Haunted House level: There's essentially only five or so rooms in the level, and getting out is a matter of passing through the doors and bookcases in a specific sequence, with a meter that changes color to tell you if you're getting closer.
  • In Devil May Cry 4, the "Lost Woods" area of the Mitis Forest is played out like a crossroads maze wherein you're taken to a scripted enemy wave encounter and then a Puzzle Reset if you can't figure out the correct path. A riddle about "seeking the light" and an obelisk in the center serve as your clues for figuring the way out. Basically, you either have to make sure your shadow is behind you, or simply go towards the direction that's opposite of the obelisk's shadow.
  • In No More Heroes, the final area ends in The Lost Woods, covered in fog, and it warps Travis back to the start if he takes the wrong path. Of course, he's guided by the ghost of Thunder Ryu, who points the way for him.
  • One of the puzzles in Jolly Rover has you using an enchanted conch to listen for ghosts singing by using it on one of four caves.
  • Karoshi 2.0 has one of these. Follow the trash cans.

    Adventure Game 
  • The Flash game Bowja the Ninja has a puzzle involving a maze-like cave full of doors numbered apparently at random. Entering one door leads to another cave full of numbered doors, and another. Attempting to guess the sequence just brings Bowja back to the start, and mapping doesn't work because it loops in odd ways. It's not any of the obvious mathematical sequences, like Fibonacci or the digits of pi. Anyone who wasn't a mathematician would probably have noticed that the correct sequence of numbers is written on the wall outside the cave.
  • Life Is Strange has this during the Nightmare Sequence. You are in the corridor of the girls' dorm, and entering the wrong door resets the scene. Entering the correct door advances you to the next stage, which can be noticed by something being different. In each stage, there is a hint which door to enter.
  • Nancy Drew:
    • Last Train To Blue Moon Canyon has Nancy Drew find her way through an old mine, guided by a hand-held color wheel and the different colors of cave lizards that inhabit the passageways. Subverted in that you also have to search the paths that aren't indicated by the color wheel, in order to find all the clues to a later puzzle.
    • Some early games in the Nancy Drew series have you win a computer game to access someone's private files. The Game Within a Game is a maze, which you can win by always choosing the corridors that have a color motif you haven't seen previously.
  • The Secret of Monkey Island has a scenario where you have to follow the shopkeeper to find the path to the Sword Master's house; fortunately, the shopkeeper is sweet on the Sword Master, and will go out to see her as many times as you ask, even though she always tells him to get lost. Her house is added to the map screen afterwards, saving you the trouble for subsequent visits. The same mechanic recurs in Escape which has you following Ozzie Mandril through the jungle to find his secret treasure horde. Once there, you're on your own to figure out how to get inside.
  • A rather subtle instance appears in Space Quest II: Vohaul's Revenge, when the protagonist is swimming through some caves. At one point, there are two paths he can take. One leads to instant death, while the other allows him to advance through the game. Although this isn't mentioned in the game, in a published walkthrough guide called The Official Guide to Roger Wilco's Space Adventures, which is narrated from Roger Wilco's perspective, he chooses the correct path to take explicitly because it looks to him like it's the "road more travelled". There's no indication which path is correct, but once you go the wrong way, you have the opportunity to turn back (and you should, it's a waterfall, numbnuts). Once you go the right way (an equally-deadly whirlpool), you lose control of your character immediately, which throughout the game has been an indication that the plot is progressing forward (usually). It's basically Fission Mailed: both rooms look like they will kill you after a long delay; one does, the other doesn't.
  • This trope came up in the original text-based Zork. A lot.

    Edutainment Game 
  • The ClueFinders games commonly use this trope; but it's actually to test critical thinking. For example, you will be asked to identify what's different from the others in a few of the games' activities.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • The final level of TNT: Evilution, half of Final Doom, has a large field of platforms with large candles on them burning with different coloured flames. Stepping on the wrong platform is instant death, not too dissimilar in principle to the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade example. The correct sequence is given in the rows of colored torches in the previous room.

    Horror Game 
  • The warp doors in Silent Hill 2's Nightmare Hotel. Only one of the doors warps you to the other wing of the building.
  • Silent Hill: Shattered Memories has an ending level that involves running through a series of identical monster-filled rooms; progressing through them correctly requires looking for the doors that are surrounded by ice.
  • Spooky's Jump Scare Mansion has one of these as one of it's randomly generated rooms, with the correct path through it also randomly generated. Getting through is is mostly trial-and-error, but the game clearly indicates if you've gone in the correct direction with a *ding* sound (and an incorrect direction with a *da-dum* sound) and there is no penalty for choosing an incorrect direction aside from having to start over.

  • In Kirby's Dream Land 3 for the SNES, one level has several sets of three doors. But if you use Kine (the fish) with the Spark power, you get this light bulb which reveals X's over the wrong doors and O's over the right one.
  • In The Little Mermaid, the trick for getting through the final level was to go through the portals with flashing eyes.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Paper Mario 64 and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door both had marked doors: the first in Bowser's castle, the second in the Palace of Shadow.
    • The original Paper Mario also had the path through the forest to Bow's mansion; each area had a different identifier that you used Goombario's field ability to learn.
    • Super Mario RPG has the Forest Maze, where you follow Geno for the correct path (and then pay attention to environmental cues for the last couple of turns). There's also a secret path through the maze to some goodies; you can get the directions from an NPC.
    • The DS version of Super Mario 64 has you follow music when rescuing Luigi from King Boo’s lair.

    Puzzle Game 
  • Each of the Professor Layton games has mini-games you can solve during the course of the main story in order to unlock bonus puzzles, but one of the mini-games in Diabolical Box is actually required in order to finish the game. If you don't assemble the camera, you can't escape from the boiler room of the castle. There's only one visible exit (other than the door through which you entered), and the bridge which leads to it is destroyed. To get through this room, you must take a picture of the boiler room and find the three things in your picture which are different from the actual scene. As with all other photographable rooms, you are rewarded for this with a hidden puzzle, which you must then solve to open the door.

    Role-Playing Game 
  • The first dungeon in Dragon Quest VII has a series of rooms that branch into four hallways. The trick is that each room has a mural hanging in the center showing a tree with four branches; you have to follow the path marked by a leaf.
  • The Fallout 4 DLC Nuka-World has a brief one in the Fun House, which consists of a circular spinning room with thankfully non-identical doors around its circumference. Opening the doors will give you various rewards, such as a parody of the "Dogs Playing Poker" painting, or a flamethrower to the face.
  • Final Fantasy VIII has the Tomb of Unknown King as a variation of this trope. Rather than confusing the player on which door is right, the game instead confuses the player with point-of-view by seemingly reusing the same "zones". Basically you follow a map's layout but whenever you go to the next path or even backtrack, you are given a different perspective.
  • In Final Fantasy IX, you are told that the Black Mage Village is found so deep in the forest that even the owls don't go there. The entrance is a repeating screen (it doesn't even reload; Zidane just walks through one entrance and comes out in another as though they were Scooby-Dooby Doors), and a sign in the middle helpfully informs you where there are no owls. You only have to go through the puzzle once, thankfully, given how many times one must return to the village.
  • In Pokémon Diamond and Pearl, you must must enter a series of doors in the Team Galactic base. Some doors lead to dead ends with trainer battles and items, and one leads to the next floor. The solution is to follow the doors with a motivational quote next to it.
  • Golden Sun:
    • In the first game, the way through Mogall Forest is indicated by following a cowardly ape, who takes the correct path through the forest. However, not taking the path can lead to missing loot.
    • In the sequel, the way through Gaia Rock is not because the doors are any different from each other, but a plant in the middle of the room shows the right direction if you use Growth on it.
    • Dark Dawn ha a subversion on one island in that the rooms look like an Unnaturally Looping Location, but is actually a standard maze.
  • Secret of Evermore has a forest that will either lead you around in circles or dump you in dead ends unless you only take the paths closest to a bizarre blue creature that appears on every screen.
  • In the Black Forest subquest of Shadow Hearts: Covenant, you must follow the instructions of talking flowers to find your way through to the end. Different colors of flowers will tell the true way or send you on a path back to the beginning, depending on the order in which you talk to them. Subverted at the end in that instead of following the white flower, like you had the whole maze, the way to get to the boss is to listen to the black flower. If you listen to the white flower at the end of the maze, it will result in a Non-Standard Game Over as you get lost in the Black Forest forever.
  • Tales of Destiny had this too in Tiberius's castle; in which the way through was according to the Zodiac and its twelve signs. The correct way would be identified if only that particular door lit up.
  • Tales of Symphonia has an interesting variation on The Lost Woods in the elven forest, in that the screens aren't identical, but taking the wrong path will put you on a different screen completely at random. Fortunately, the guiding critter isn't hard to find and activate. The correct path also never changes, so you can ignore the critter entirely if you've played it before.
    • There's also the teleport pads in the Palmacosta Ranch, which appear to be Magical Mystery Doors until you use the Sorcerer's Ring and discover that there's a shiny dot (which indicates a hidden item) next to the pad that advances you toward the boss room. Of course, picking up the item destroys the clue (unless it's actually a booby trap that summons guards on you), so you'd better remember which was the right way. And again, you can ignore it entirely if you've played the game often enough to memorize the right sequence.
  • In Trials of Mana:
    • The Lampbloom Woods offers a rather non-subtle (but is missable) version. At night, the flowers leading in the right direction glow red. Pretty obvious to anyone who has played a game before, even without the characters in the game telling you, but can be confusing if you arrive during the day.
    • In Charlotte/Kevin's routes, the final dungeon is hidden beyond the Jungle of Illusion, and the maze must be navigated by listening to the sound that plays when you pick a path. In the remake, the one clue is a lone Rabite statue; the paths with the Rabites on them are the correct ones.
  • Wild ARMs 5 has a brief puzzle section like this at one point: You're inside a square room with 3 identical exits and one slightly different one. Most of the differences are obvious, but the last one not so much: Shooting the pot next to the correct door gives you money, the ones next to the incorrect doors are empty. Bonus points for starting a random encounter if the short time limit runs out.

    Non-Video Game Examples 
Films — Live-Action
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Temple of the Sun has one of these in the form of the "Word of God" puzzle, a series of lettered tiles on the floor. Stepping on the wrong ones would cause them to break through, sending the hapless person into a chasm below the floor. The correct sequence is the spelling of God's name, Jehovah (spelt in Latin where it begins with an I, as Indy nearly died finding out).


  • In The Lord of the Rings, the Fellowship is able to navigate through the Mines of Moria once Gandalf recognizes than one of the paths has fresher air than the others.
  • In The Neverending Story, Bastian gets lost in a maze for a while before realizing that he has to pass through the door that reminds him of the place he wants to go to.

Can you tell which door is not like the other?
By the time I finish this article?